Do I want to write about this? There are so many people, especially people of color (which really should be the only people writing about this) that have done much more work than I have in this field that leads me to feel like I should not. But then I realized that could just also be the patriarchy and systemic racism taking a toll, too, right? I am a black woman; how can I not have anything to say about the injustices which are taking place in America. I have done DEI work for organizations and nonprofits to better their administrations, support staff, and those that follow them. But ultimately, what I have to say to you thriving growing businesses, entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and bosses that you are, just do the work. And what work is that? Take your pick.
For so long in these organizations I got burned out because I did all of this research, I found all of the materials needed to support the study and drafted all the steps to implement new ways of thinking and supporting each other. Some groups were afraid to make the change.
Yes, it will ruffle some feathers, and you may even lose some followers along the way. But I promise you that it is just a short-term reaction to long term growth. If you have two eyes and a brain that works even half the time, you will see that the nation is changing for the better. And on a more business-level, your consumers and audience care. They want to know what you stand for and what you did during a time of divisiveness and injustice.
Depending on the organization, the work looks different. It depends on what you are trying to achieve. We witnessed countless organizations post black boxes on their Instagram feeds just to continue to participate in the systemic racism they claimed to fight. They did not do the work. To make matters even worse, some companies are being exposed because they are intentionally counteracting the fight for equality. But this does not have to be you.
To do the work means to open your perspective and grant opportunities to people of color. Are they on your boards and committees? Are they your executive producers and writers? Do they physically have a seat at your table and feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns and contribute to the overall growth of your company without fear of backlash?
And once they are there, the work must continue onward. What continuous action can your company put in place to make sure that this is not happening for just a moment in time? Are there learning tools available to better your awareness and those around you without burdening the black voice to speak for all and to educate you? What black businesses are you supporting or contracting out to?
The Truth Is…
Systemic racism is so embedded in American culture that equity seems like an injustice to non-people of color. And it’s not until you were able to look beyond yourself and understand the experiences of black people, people of color. People of different socio-economic backgrounds will you begin to understand the chasm of the existence of people from the same country. We are not asking for handouts. We’re asking for humanitarianism. So, let’s get to work.